Photo: Rob Suisted
Lawyers have great skills: knowledge, rigour, eloquence, etc. They have traditionally fostered a hierarchical relationship with their clients by providing expert knowledge difficult, if not impossible, to assess by laypeople. At the same time, in North America, trials are vanishing. Costs are too high, delays too long, processes too complex. Increasing numbers of citizens go to trial without counsel. They question relations of authority in all areas of society. They are better educated and have access to more information. They do not want to be told what to do.
In this context, lawyers need to add to their classical skills by fostering relations of partnership and collaboration with their clients. Plain language in law is one essential skill required of legal counsels to convey the rules of law, thus making it possible for clients to make their own informed decisions.
How is plain language essential to students of law and lawyers? Why do judges need to adopt plain language when addressing parties? How is the legal profession to adapt to these social changes, if not, by making law more accessible? How can plain language adepts convince colleagues of the importance of communicating law clearly and effectively?